by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Supplements

Nov 29 2018

NutraIngredients-USA on “Personalized Nutrition”

The food industry is intensely interested in personalized nutrition because it can create and sell products appeared to be aimed directly at individual lifestyles and preferences.

This approach is aimed much more at marketing than it is about public health.

With that said, take a look at how the food industry is using this idea.

Special Edition: Personalized Nutrition

The future is personal, but the revolution is already taking place around us. Innovative science is combining with entrepreneurial endeavor to bring personalized nutrition to our fingertips.

Personalized nutrition is breaking down the silos and bringing together experts in genetics and genomic profiling, microbiology, nutrition and diet, mobile technology, big data, healthcare and more.

In this special edition we talk to the pioneers and experts in this sector, the scientists and the emerging brands, and the tech developers bringing the personalized nutrition future to the present day.

Aug 6 2018

What’s in dietary supplements? NutraIngredients on transparency

NutraIngredients is another one of those industry newsletters I read every day.  Here is its collection of articles—a special edition—on supplements.  In the United States, supplement ingredients and labels are governed by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which effectively deregulated the products leaving the public to take the products on trust, sometimes justifiably, but sometimes not.

Special Edition: Transparency in Dietary Supplements

Issues concerning adulteration, identity and others swirl around the dietary supplement industry.  In this special edition, NutraIngredients-USA looks at the opportunities for proactively dealing with these questions in an effort to boost transparency and retain consumers’ trust.

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Mar 26 2018

Selling dietary supplements in Latin America

This comes from one of those daily food-industry newsletters I subscribe to, in this case NutraIngredients.com.  It occasionally focuses on regions and I thought this collection of articles was of interest.  Do Latin Americans need dietary supplements?  Just asking.

Welcome to NutraIngredients’ first quarterly supplement focusing on the Latin American dietary supplements and functional food markets. In this edition, we look at the changing regulatory landscapes across the region, including a deep dive into how Brazil is creating a distinct category for supplements. We’ll also look at a supplement start-up and opportunities for omega-3s in LATAM.

Dec 26 2017

Rattlesnake pills? Really? Contaminated with Salmonella?

I am indebted to food safety lawyer Bill Marler for enlightening me about these pills in the first place, and their contamination with Salmonella.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have linked one  person’s Salmonella Oranienburg infection to taking rattlesnake pills. Rattlesnake pills are often marketed as remedies for various conditions, such as cancer and HIV infection. These pills contain dehydrated rattlesnake meat ground into a powder and put into pill form. CDC recommends that you talk to your health care provider if you are considering taking rattlesnake pills, especially if you are in a group more likely to get a severe Salmonella infection.

Can’t wait to hear what your health care provider says about these.

 

Dec 19 2017

Never a dull moment: snortable chocolate?

I know that everyone loves chocolate, but to snort???

The FDA, ever on the job, has issued a warning letter to Arco Globus Trading that its snortable Coco Loko product–cocoa powder infused with caffeine, gingko, taurine, and guarana–is being marketed illegally as an unapproved street drug.

the claims made in your promotional materials for Legal Lean Syrup and Coco Loko demonstrate that these products are intended to be used as alternatives to illicit street drugs…With respect to Coco Loko, a powder substance, you describe it in your labeling as a “snuff” and you promote it to be “snorted” (inhaled intranasally).  Intranasal administration of a powder substance can trigger laryngospasm or bronchospasm and induce or exacerbate an episode of asthma.  Furthermore, the ingredients listed on the product label for Coco Loko include taurine and guarana.  The safety of these ingredients for intranasal administration has not been evaluated.

I can’t find an official website for the product (it seems to have disappeared) but the FDA says that Coco Loko does not qualify as a supplement (it is snorted, not eaten, and it actually intended for use as a street drug:

  • “Endorphin rush . . . it triggers a positive feeling of well being in your body similar to morphine.”
  • “Serotonin rush . . . will produce an elevated mood and a state of euphoria similar to the feeling of ecstasy.”
  • “Euphoric energy . . . Raw cacao will give you a steady rush of euphoric energy . . ..”
  • “Raw cacao . . . is also known to help with anxiety and to reduce stress.”
  • Coco Loko Review by I Suck At Talking (Youtube video on your website): “Raw cacao is linked to numerous health benefits . . . lower blood pressure and improved blood circulation . . ..” (1:04 – 1:13)

Snorting cocoa powder?  Really?  Not a good idea (even though no calories that way).

You can’t make this stuff up either.

Sep 18 2017

FDA wants comments on guidance for pre-DSHEA dietary ingredients

The FDA is taking comments about developing a list of dietary supplement ingredients in safe use before Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.

It announced a public meeting for October 3 ton this issue.

The FDA also announced that it is accepting public comments on its draft guidance. on New Dietary Ingredients (NDIs).

Here are the FDA documents:

What this is about

A timeline may help:

  • 1994: Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act which essentially deregulated dietary supplements.
  • It did, however, require marketers of “New Dietary Ingredients (NDIs)” to submit a premarket notification to the FDA at least 75 days before introducing it—unless the ingredient had a history of safe use before that date.
  • 1997: FDA issues regulations for NDIs
  • 2011 (January): The Food Safety Modernization Act passes.  This required the FDA to clarify when an ingredient is considered NDI.
  • 2011 (July):  FDA publishes draft guidance
  • 2017 (September):  FDA issues draft guidance for comment

As the FDA explains, one purpose of this guidance is to improve compliance with the NDI notification requirement.

In 2012, FDA estimated that the number of dietary supplements on the market was 55,600 and that 5,560 new dietary supplement products come on the market each year. This is in contrast to the approximately 4,000 products that were on the market in 1994, when DSHEA was enacted.

As of December 2014, we had received and completed our evaluation of just over 750 NDI notifications since the first notification was received in 1995.

These figures, coupled with recent concern about the presence of undeclared active ingredients in products marketed as dietary supplements, highlight the importance of submitting NDI notifications as a preventive control to ensure that consumers are not exposed to unnecessary public health risks in the form of new ingredients with unknown safety profiles

The FDA also explains:

FDA’s guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities.  Instead, guidances describe our current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited.  The use of the word should in FDA guidances means that something is suggested or recommended, but not required.

How are we to interpret this?  

My take is that DSHEA is a public health disaster.  It allows supplement companies to use pretty much whatever ingredients they want and to continue doing so until there is substantial evidence for harm.

This must be an attempt by the FDA to exercise some kind of control over ingredients in supplements.  As such, the measure deserves support.

File comments by December 4; go to http://www.regulations.gov and type FDA-2017-N-4625 in the search box.

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Jul 14 2017

Do memory supplements help boost memory (oh how I wish)

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has a new report out calling for better federal oversight of memory supplements.

These are a growing market with sales estimated at $643 million in 2015, almost double since 2006.

FDA and FTC share oversight of memory supplement labeling and advertising, respectively, but neither approves claims in advance.  For this, thank the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 which pretty much lets supplement makers claim whatever they like for their products, as long as they word the claims carefully.

GAO found ads for memory supplements claiming that they would boost, enhance, improve, increase, or maintain a healthy memory.  They also made claims related to general brain health, cognitive function, and well-being.

Amazon sells these things. It advertises them like this:

Brain and Memory Booster – All Natural Formula- Brain supplement helps improve memory, mood, clarity and focus and protect against mental decline, depression, anxiety.

Do they work?

Alas, no, according to Consumer Reports.  But that doesn’t stop Americans from spending $91 million on them in 2015.

Really, something needs to be done about DSHEA.

Here’s the GAO report: Memory Supplements: Clarifying FDA and FTC Roles Could Strengthen Oversight and Enhance Consumer Awareness.
GAO-17-416.

Feb 9 2017

The supplement industry’s political agenda revealed

I am indebted to Food Chemical News (FCN) for this insight into the current lobbying efforts of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the supplement industry’s relentless, never give up, trade group.

FCN says the Council is on track to visit all new congressional representatives with these asks:

  • Allow SNAP benefits to be used for dietary supplements.
  • Allow the supplement industry to self-regulate.
  • Join the bipartisan Dietary Supplement Caucus.

Sigh.

Never mind that dietary supplements are hardly ever shown to improve health in healthy people, and not for lack of trying (see previous posts, below).

Never mind that this is an issue the USDA has been dealing with for years.

This industry sees the current political scene as favorable to supplements and is not going to miss this opportunity.

Oh well.

As you can see, I take a dim view of the value of supplements (yes, I know you love taking them, and how we all wish the science showed they did some good).

Here are some of my previous posts on supplements, if you want to catch up.